10 June, 2009

JACKSONVILLE AND AMTRAK, A City Speaks Out On Passenger Rail Routes


AMTRAK? EVER WONDER WHERE YOUR MARKET IS IN FLORIDA? HERE ARE RESULTS OF A RANDOM SURVEY OF 47 NON-RAILROAD, OR RAILFAN, FLORIDIANS THAT MIGHT HELP...

We took a look at the classic trains of Florida Past, and Present, then listed them by route by route. This was a long survey and we are quite happy to have had 47 people to volunteer their time to read through it and answer it as truthfully as possible. There were a few surprises but most of the answers were as exciting as the memory and imagination of the old railroad guy.

Routes: The train routes were given an identification based on some historic train or where possible a current Amtrak name. We then listed only the major destinations of all of the trains to give a good feel for the routes themselves. Everyone understood that there would be smaller intermediate stops enroute. Frankly, I wondered if the names or the routes or even the fact that they would not be "NON-STOP FLIGHTS" would play in a 2009 world. Not only did it play, I think many of these old routes are still considered solid gold by our City. Routes to the Carolinas, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, and New Orleans all made a very strong showing. The Florida East Coast Ry. Corridor, nearly blew the survey away.

We then asked where they would prefer to catch a train in Jacksonville, again Jacksonville Terminal downtown was a hands down run away winner. However Orange Park/Yukon and a South Jacksonville station (both were once suburban way stations with passenger service) made a strong showing. Perhaps the citizens living in the most sprawled city in North America (largest in land mass) are begging Amtrak, JTA and FDOT to give us the benefit of multipule stops such as the Orlando area enjoys.

Schedules were questioned based on the age old, "Florida Passenger Train Curse." All trains run Southbound in the early AM, and all trains run Northbound in the early PM... I, for one, have always thought a couple of very late PM departures South from Jacksonville, with early AM arrivals in Tampa/Sarasota/Ft. Myers or St. Petersburg, as well as West Palm/Fort Lauderdale/Miami, would serve a strong market. I really didn't know how it would play for others to rock 100 years of tradition. One can only imagine my response to the peoples validation of my theorys.

The questions on the JTC (Jacksonville Transportation Center) aka: Jacksonville Terminal, are loaded as it is currently a far too small Convention Center. The old Headhouse of the 1919 Railroad Terminal dwarfs any other station built South of Washington D.C., but it sits vacant, used as an occasional "ballroom" for Conventioniers. The exhibit halls are new and take up most of the former railroad platforms with buildings and/or parking. If we attempt to build JTC with the Convention Center in the middle, it will scatter our station all over the LaVilla neighborhood. If we move the Convention Center to larger and more desireable locations in the center of downtown's waterfront, then transportation can reclaim all of the land that was once in use.

The questions of "Interface" with the City have to do with multi-modal connections. Our Monorail, and Bus System, plus any future Streetcars, Light Rail, Commuter Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, and Water Taxis. Again we wanted to hear from those with zero background in this type of venture to see what the casual resident would say. I think many will be amazed at just how savvy these citizens really are.

The last set of questions put the JTC or Jacksonville Terminal back to something of it's original form. We asked how much, where, when, what, how, who and why and again, honors go to these intrepid residents that hung in and gave intelligent answers to the questions.

Finally something of a joke. Our question about "The Lakelander" as a certain Mr. Davis, urban planner is known. "Ocklawaha", as Mr. Mann, your blogger, and former railroad consultant, is known in various civic forums and events. We knew there was local name recognition and wondered if all of these 5,000 + storys in all forms of media had given anyone a sense of who we are and what we'd love to do?
It was never intended to sound like hollow bragging, but the public themselves spoke loud and clear much to our delighted surprise.



THE SOUTH WIND LIVING UP TO HER NAME

ROUTE / TRAIN NAME / ROUTE DESCRIPTION

Total votes out of a possible 47/(percent of all totals combined)/Percent out of a possible 100%.

ROUTE> The Tidewater Route: Jax-Savannah-Fayetteville-Suffolk-Portsmouth/Norfolk
13 (1.6%) 27%
ROUTE> The Carolina Special Route: Jax-Savannah-Columbia-Charlotte-Washington-New York
27 (3.3%) 57%
ROUTE> Silver Meteor Route: Jax-Savannah-Columbia-Raleigh-Richmond-Washington-New York
28 (3.5%) 59%
ROUTE> Champion Route: Jax-Savannah-Fayetteville-Richmond-Washington-New york
20 (2.5%) 42%
ROUTE> KCY-FL Special Route: Jax-Jessup-Hazelhurst-Macon-Atlanta-Chattanooga-Nashville-St. Louis-KCY
19 (2.3%) 40%
ROUTE> Dixie Route: Jax-Waycross-Fitzgerald-Macon-Atlanta-Chattanooga-Nashville-Louisville-Chicago
24 (3%) 51%
ROUTE> Royal Palm Route: Jax-Valdosta-Cordelle-Macon-Atlanta-Chattanooga-Knoxville-Cincinnati-Chicago/Detriot/Cleveland
21 (2.6%) 44%
ROUTE> City of Miami Route: Jax-Valdosta-Albany-Columbus-Birmingham-Memphis-St.Louis/Chicago
13 (1.6%)nb b 27%
ROUTE> South Wind Route: Jax-Waycross-Valdosta-Dothan-Montgomery-Birmingham-Nashville-Louisville-Chicago
12 (1.5%) 25%
ROUTE> Gulf Wind Route: Jax-Tallahassee-Pensacola-Mobile-Biloxi-New Orleans-(Los Angeles)
31 (3.8%) 65%
ROUTE> The Gulf Coast Special Route: Jax-Baldwin-Starke-Alachua-Gainesville
17 (2.1%) 36%
ROUTE> West Coast Champion Route: Jax-Palatka-Orlando-Lakeland-Tampa-Clearwater-St. Pete
22 (2.7%) 46%
ROUTE> The Meteor Route: Jax-Waldo-Wildwood-Auburndale-Winter Haven-Sebring-West Palm-Miami
16 (2%) 34%
ROUTE> The Sunniland Route> Jax-Waldo-Wildwood-Lakeland-Arcadia-Ft. Myers-Naples
9 (1.1%) 19%
ROUTE> The Palmland Route: Jax-Waldo-Wildwood-Lakeland-Tampa-Sarasota-Venice
11 (1.4%) 23%
ROUTE> East Coast Champion Route: Jax-Palatka-Orlando-Auburndale-Winter Haven-Sebring-West Palm-Miami
19 (2.3%) 40%
ROUTE> H. M. Flagler Route: Jax-St. Augustine-Daytona Beach-Melbourne-Ft. Pierce-West Palm-Miami
37 (4.6%) 78%


THE OBSERVATION CAR ROYAL STREET BRINGS UP THE MARKER LIGHTS ON THE ROYAL PALM

---------------------------------
I'd Prefer to catch the train at the current Amtrak Station
1 (0.1%) 2%
I'd prefer to catch the train at the Jacksonville Terminal Downtown
46 (5.7%) 97%
I'd prefer to catch the train in South Jacksonville
9 (1.1%) 19%
I'd prefer to catch the train in Baldwin
2 (0.2%) 4%
I'd prefer to catch the train in Orange Park/Yukon
10 (1.2%) 21%
---------------------------------

All schedules should be Southbound in the AM and Northbound in the PM
3 (0.4%) 6%
All schedules should run in both directions throughout the daylight hours
11 (1.4%) 23%
All schedules should run in both directions both daylight and overnight
33 (4.1%) 70%
--------------------------------
JTC>I like the JTA Jacksonville Transportation Center just like it is planned
6 (0.7%) 12%
JTC>I would like to see the Convention Center moved and a more condensed Transporation Center built
35 (4.3%) 74%
JTC>If the Convention Center can't be moved, we should redesign the Transportation Center for more compactness
15 (1.9%) 31%
--------------------------------

INTERFACE> JTA should hub city buses, BRT and Express Bus services to meet Amtrak trains
29 (3.6%) 61%
INTERFACE> JTA Should expand the Skyway Downtown to better distribute the passengers from the trains
29 (3.6%) 61%
INTERFACE> JTA should run much longer hours, even 24/7 on main trunk routes as soon as the trains start rolling
22 (2.7%) 46%
INTERFACE> I believe JTA's Commuter Rail and Streetcar lines will benefit from the groundwork provided by Amtrak and Regional Rail
43 (5.3%) 91%
INTERFACE> I don't think Amtrak will mean a thing to JTA ridership, even if we become a major hub again.
2 (0.2%) 4%


THE DIXIE FLYER ARRIVES IN NASHVILLE
-------------------------------
TERMINAL PLANS> JTA/FDOT plan 3 tracks at our downtown station, I think that's more then enough
3 (0.4%) 6%
TERMINAL PLANS> JTA and FDOT plan 3 tracks at our station, I feel it is wholly inadequate
12 (1.5%) 25%
TERMINAL PLANS> JTA and FDOT plan 3 tracks at our station and I fear they foolishly plan to give the hub to Orlando or Sanford
22 (2.7%) 46%
TERMINAL PLANS> I believe a complete Railroad Terminal with all of the sundry support is a requirement in Jacksonville
28 (3.5%) 59%
TERMINAL PLANS> I think Jacksonville and JTA should be at the forefront of the efforts to improve rail services in NE Florida and South Georgia
41 (5.1%) 87%
TERMINAL PLANS> I would support the idea of a multi-city/multi-state coalition led by Jacksonville to push rail passenger service
35 (4.3%) 74%
TERMINAL PLANS> Should The Lakelander and Ocklawaha be appointed to lead the Jacksonville Rail Task Force?
33 (4.1%) 70%




SEABOARD PAUSES AT BAY PINES, FLORIDA IN BETTER DAYS






2 comments:

  1. What is your experience with transit in Jacksonville? Do you have concerns about transportation in your area? Share your perspective today at www.infrastructureusa.org where you can read expert commentary, upload images of local infrastructure, and make your voice heard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was playing games online however for reading this post more interesting thanks for the share please do keep it going great job....Loveing this.

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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